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Sumac Ridge Signature Cellar

A Wine-Lover’s Guide to the Okanagan Valley

Once known for fruit orchards and lakes, the Okanagan is now a destination for wine lovers everywhere. The hills and valleys are striped with grape vines of all varieties and area wineries and restaurants continue to push the envelope in their abundant offerings. Here are 10 spots that can’t be missed on your first, or next trip to this beautiful region. To plan your trip or see a complete list of B.C. wineries visit winebc.com.

Sumac Ridge Signature Cellar Grazing and Harvest Dinner, Summerland

This educational and delicious evening starts in the sparkling wine cave where guests learn about the traditional French method for transforming wine into bubbles before watching a Sabre Ceremony pop open Stellar’s Jay Brut. Private Reserve wines will be poured during the dinner that follows.

Nk’Mip Cellars, Osoyoos

Explore connections of place and people at Nk’Mip Cellars, the first Aboriginal-owned winery in North America. Winding through the process of grape to glass, the legacy tour speaks to the Osoyoos Indian Band and their work to translate desert terroir to bottle.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Kelowna

If the idea that wine from this organic and biodynamic winery is better because it’s aged in the sacred geometry of a pyramid isn’t enough of a draw, then tasting some of the award-winning Cipes Brut should be.

Nichol Vineyard, Naramata

Among the first wineries to settle on the Naramata Bench, Nichol has remained small compared to others in the Okanagan. In this case, size does matter. Most of the work here is done by hand, including during harvest when workers pluck bunches of grapes by hand from the vine.

Tantalus Vineyards, Kelowna

Matching historic vineyards with modern facilities, Tantalus brings together the traditions of wine with a progressive approach focused on sustainability. The new LEED-certified winery features enviable views from the tasting room, where you can sample their premium, single-vineyard wines.

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SunRock Vineyard Tour, Osoyoos

Named for its perch on a mountain slope, this is the ideal spot for a lunch and sampling of wines. Sip on SunRock and Jackson-Triggs Okanagan wines at this organized vineyard tour and barbecue lunch made with local, seasonal ingredients.

Terrafina Restaurant at Hester Creek Estate Winery, Oliver

A small slice of Italy tucked into the landscape south of Oliver, Terrafina’s menu takes classic dishes — pasta carbonara, meatballs, risotto — and twists them into something unique. (That carbonara features crisp pork belly and a rhubarb gastrique, for example.) Considering the winery’s Italian heritage, it’s the perfect marriage between the old country and the Okanagan.

The Vibrant Vine, Kelowna

A cacophony of colour, no tasting room compares to The Vibrant Vine. Sample some of the famed Woops blends with its signature upside-down labels or stop by Friday evenings and weekend afternoons to sip Vibrant Vine wine while listening to local musicians on the lawn.

Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, West Kelowna

Set atop the west side of Kelowna like a crown, Mission Hill Family Estate Winery is hard to miss. The architecture — complete with bell tower and amphitheatre — is as bold and evocative as the wines Mission Hill produces.

A West Coast Bannock Story

GccGy Marnie Helliwell, as told to Nancy Fornasiero

Bannock is a staple enjoyed across the country by native Canadians, and each tribe—even each family—has their own favourite version. It’s also known as frybread, bannaq, galett and sapli’l. This particular recipe was passed on to Tofino, B.C.’s Marnie Helliwell in the traditional First Nations way: via word of mouth. It came from her friend, Grace George, who received the recipe from her own mother, Helen.

Marnie Helliwell

Marnie Helliwell

Ever since my seven-year-old son, Colby, first tasted bannock at Wickaninnish Community School back in kindergarten, he can’t stop talking about it. He learned about it thanks to Grace, a local First Nations woman and elder who works at our elementary school as a First Nations education assistant. She teaches the kids about the culture and history of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations. Whether she’s sharing food, teaching about traditional dances and songs or telling a folktale, we parents (native or not) appreciate the fact that she shares her rich heritage with our kids. But nothing gets Colby more excited than when Grace makes a visit to make bannock. “Mom,” he comes home gushing, “Grace makes the bestest bannock!”

So, when my friend Lisa Ahier, the chef at Tofino’s popular SoBo restaurant, organized a potluck dinner and told us each to bring a Canadian dish that meant something special to us, I knew right away what I was bringing: bannock. Nothing says Canada to me more than this dish; and besides, my kids love to eat it probably more than anything else.

Full disclosure: I’m not much of a cook. In the past, when we’ve enjoyed bannock as a family, it was usually because Grace made it or because we ate it during our travels around the province. Bannock is often served at local festivals, sold at farmers markets and dished up at celebrations hosted by the First Nations families in our tight-knit community. My kids and I make a point of sampling it any time we can—and the consensus is that Grace’s Nuu-chah-nulth recipe is the ultimate version. I decided it was time to fully embrace this dish and learn to make it myself!

Grace has become a good friend of mine, so I was pretty sure I could get my hands on the recipe. All the same, I followed the proper First Nations etiquette of formally requesting the family recipe from an elder. (Luckily Grace is an elder!) I couldn’t believe how simple the recipe was: only four ingredients.

The really funny part was when I popped over to the Tofino Co-op to buy the ingredients and caused a bit of a ruckus. I bumped into another Nuu-chah-nulth lady I know and innocently asked what sort of oil I should buy. “Oil?!” she shouted. “Why are you using oil? Biscuits have fat in them, bannock doesn’t!” Other Nuu-chah-nulth shoppers heard the fuss, then they gathered around, adding their two cents’ worth:

“Yes, you can use oil, just don’t overmix!”

“My grandmother always said to use high heat if you want a good crust.”

“Water’s fine; no need to use milk.”

“Mother always fried it at our house.”

Clearly, there are a lot of bannock recipes out there, but I knew if I wanted to keep Colby happy, I’d better stick to Grace’s instructions. While the bannock baked, Colby and my daughter, Mackenzie, impatiently inhaled the delicious aroma, and when we dove into it, still warm from the oven, they said it was as good as Grace’s. Phew.

The next time I made it, it was for the whole gang at Lisa’s paddleboarding potluck dinner. It was a huge hit with my girlfriends, too, especially when served with jam made from local berries. Not bad, for a non-baker like me!

I love this dish even though I don’t have a drop of aboriginal blood. The culture of our native peoples really means a lot to me—their traditions, their respect for nature. Their sense of spirituality especially lands with me: When my son Braeden passed away a few years ago, we had a beautiful service based on the Nuu-chah-nulth culture that brought me a lot of comfort.

First Nations culture is so interwoven into our lives here that I feel a part of it. It’s hard for people outside Tofino to understand that. It’s really something special.

Read more: See three simple ways to cook bannock here.

Traditional Bannock, courtesy of Marnie Helliwell

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Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Yield: 8 to 12 servings

Ingredients
6 cups (1.5 L) flour
6 tbsp (90 mL) baking powder
3½ cups (875 mL) milk, warmed
¼ cup (60 mL) vegetable oil

Directions
1. In large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, milk and oil. Stir until dough comes together in a ball; do not overmix. Shape into rough oval; place on baking sheet or oven-safe casserole dish.
2. Bake in 400°F (200°C) oven “until a beautiful golden brown,” about 30 minutes.
3. Serve warm or cooled. Excellent with B.C. blackberry jam.

Follow the jump to print, save or share this Traditional Bannock recipe.

Do you have a delicious dish to share with the rest of Canada? Submit your recipe for a chance to be featured on Great Canadian Cookbook and Food Network Canada!

The Berry Crumble Recipe That Makes Her Think of Mom

By April Robson, as told to Kate Paddison

April Robson is a Tofino, B.C.-based yoga instructor, mom to daughter Waverly and self-proclaimed “jammer,” teaching how to preserve local fruits and vegetables and how to make yogurt at local reskilling festivals. Her recipe for berry crumble with homemade yogurt is very dear to her heart: Robson’s mother died when she was 11 years old, but fond memories of her mom’s berry crumble help Robson feel close to her again.

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My mom used this recipe for berry crumble and homemade yogurt quite often in her kitchen. It’s a recipe so familiar to me I don’t really even think about it when I’m making it myself; it kind of comes through naturally. I love this recipe because it can be made in all seasons, all across the country. There is no special berry; you can use the wild berries from your yard or you can use frozen berries. You can make this for everyday or a special occasion, plus it travels well for a potluck. It’s an easy go-to recipe—warm and homey.

My mom was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 42 years old. It came on very suddenly, and within a year of her being diagnosed, she passed.

I can remember her essence. I remember her in the kitchen, teaching me to cook, preparing certain dishes, such as this one. And now, I feel really attached to the things I had in my childhood, specifically cooking, because it’s a way for me to connect with her.

I grew up not far from Tofino on a float house, which is a home on a dock. We were right on the ocean and my parents owned an oyster farm. We ate a lot of seafood—clams, fish, crab—and a lot of fresh greens because my mom had a garden on the dock. We were essentially a mini floating homestead that relied on solar power and lived completely off the grid.

We did a lot of our own things, such as harvesting wild food, plus what my mother had grown on the dock. We also had chickens. There was no running water, so we had to haul up our own or use rainwater. My family’s favourite restaurant in my town at the time was one we went to only a couple of times a year because we had so much already available to us.

As a kid, I fought to get out of that life. I wanted to get away and have a normal yard and running water and a bathtub. Now, I’ve spent my whole adult life trying to get back to those roots, which is why I really enjoy baking and foraging. In the summer, we have four kinds of berries in the front yard, and it’s extremely easy to go around and pick them.

My mom and dad taught me how to provide for my family, how to make healthy homemade meals from the earth. The way our planet is going, it’s really important for our children to be connected to our food, the land and the environment. It’s all supported by each other, and if we don’t take care of our food system now, we won’t have it for very long. It’s important to me that my kids have the same feeling about a healthy relationship with their food and their environment.

See more: Watch Lynn, April and baby Waverly make this berry crumble at home.

Wild Berry Crumble with Homemade Yogurt, courtesy of April Robson

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Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Yields: about 6 servings

Ingredients
Wild Berry Crumble
1 cup (250 mL) flour
1 cup (250 mL) packed dark brown or Demerara sugar
½ cup (125 mL) salted butter (if you prefer unsalted butter, add 1 tsp/5 mL salt to flour mixture), cubed
1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon or other desired spices (optional)
4 cups (1 L) berries and/or sliced fruit (any assortment of berries or seasonal fruit, such as apples, pears or stone fruits, will work great)
juice of ? lemon

Homemade Greek-Style Yogurt
4 cups (1 L) 10% or 18% cream or table cream
1 pkg yogurt culture or 3 oz (85 g) plain Greek yogurt (if using store-bought yogurt as a starter, scrape off surface layer and use yogurt underneath; it will likely have a higher concentration of healthy bacteria)

Directions
Wild Berry Crumble
1. In bowl, mix together flour and brown sugar. Stir in cinnamon, if using.
2. Using pastry blender or 2 knives, roughly cut in butter into flour mixture. Using hands, further incorporate butter until mixture is well moistened.
3. Add lemon juice to berry mixture, tossing to coat. (If using especially juicy or frozen fruit, toss with 1 tbsp/15 mL flour to prevent runniness.)
4. Add berry mixture to baking dish; spread flour mixture evenly over top. Bake in 375°F (190°C) oven for 45 to 60 minutes or until topping is evenly browned and filling is bubbling up around sides.

Homemade Greek-Style Yogurt
1. Boil water in large nonreactive pot for 10 minutes to sterilize; discard water. Set pot aside to cool for 5 minutes.
2. Pour cream into pot over medium-low heat; cook until just before boiling point. (Heat should be low enough that cream doesn’t scald while being hot enough to raise temperature.) Do not stir cream. Remove from heat.
3. Allow cream to cool until you can comfortably hold pot without burning hands, when temperature reaches about 110°F to 115°F (43°C to 46°C). (This can take a few hours, but if you add yogurt culture to cream while it’s still too hot, it will curdle and yogurt won’t set.)
4. Using ladle, scoop a bit of cream into small bowl; add yogurt culture and mix until well combined. If skin has formed on top of cream, remove with fork and discard. (Remember to sterilize all utensils in boiling water before using.)
5. Add yogurt culture mixture to pan; stir well but gently as to not create foam.
6. Pour inoculated cream into 2 sterilized 2-cup (500 mL) canning jars; place in warm environment, such as yogurt maker or bread proofer for 8 for 10 hours or until yogurt is firm. Keep at about 110°F (43°C)—or as close to it as possible—the entire time.
7. Set on counter until room temperature.
8. Refrigerate until chilled. Serve with Wild Berry Crumble.

Click to print, save or share this Wild Berry Crumble and Homemade Greek-Style Yogurt recipe.

Do you have a delicious dish to share with the rest of Canada? Submit your recipe for a chance to be featured on Great Canadian Cookbook and Food Network Canada!

Fresh and Minty Salsa Verde

By Amy Bronee

Chips and dip are party classics, and fresh tomatillo salsa kicks things up a notch at the snack table. I like to make my tomatillo salsa verde with fresh mint leaves from the patch in my garden that returns faithfully along our backyard fence every year. Those tender mint leaves are so flavourful and so versatile, ending up in everything from salads to sauces and even meatballs in our kitchen— and also regularly make their way into our mojito cocktails. My kids like to munch on mint leaves straight from the plant while running through the sprinkler in the summer sunshine.

Tomatillos come wrapped in a husk, and although they look like green tomatoes they are more closely related to the cape gooseberry (also known as a ground cherry, Peruvian cherry and golden berry). One thing they do have in common with tomatoes is that they make fantastic salsa.

Fresh Tomatillo Mint Salsa, Courtesy of Amy Bronee, familyfeedbag.com, Victoria

A tangy green salsa you’ll love with tortilla chips, tacos or enchiladas.
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Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Yield: 2 cups (500 mL)

Ingredients
1 lb (450 g) fresh tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed, and cut in quarters
15 fresh mint leaves
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp (30 mL) lime juice
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
½ tsp (2 mL) ground cumin
Tortilla chips for scooping

Directions
1. In a food processor, combine quartered tomatillos, mint leaves, garlic, lime juice, salt and cumin. Pulse until finely chopped.
2. Serve with tortilla chips.

Note: If you don’t have a food processor, simply finely chop tomatillos and mint leaves, and mince garlic, before stirring ingredients together.

Click to print, save or share this Mint Salsa recipe.

Family Feedbag
Amy Bronee is the writer and photographer behind the award-winning home cooking blog FamilyFeedbag.com. Her bestselling cookbook The Canning Kitchen: 101 Simple Small Batch Recipes was published by Penguin Canada in June 2015. Amy’s favourite place in the world is her cozy family kitchen in Victoria, where she enjoys an island lifestyle with her husband and two young sons.